Wide sidewalks, a three-storey look and open views of the Kew Beach fire hall – that’s how city councillors hope a revised zoning bylaw will shape any future development along Queen Street East from Coxwell Avenue to Nursewood Road.
But a legal test of the new rules is already underway.
Two developers who are separately proposing to build six-storey condos on either side of Woodbine Avenue at Queen have asked the Ontario Municipal Board to exempt their projects from the revised bylaw.
Just after voting in the bylaw changes at their April 9 meeting, councillors on the Toronto and East York Community Council followed up by voting to have city lawyers fight the two OMB appeals.
“We have the guidelines,” said Ward 32 councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon. “We’re going to darn well stand by them.”
That defence will centre partly on timing.
Speaking at the meeting, developer Karsten Riedel said that to be fair, his proposal should be weighed against the planning guidelines that were in place when he made it.
Riedel said that after months of talks with city staff, he stepped down his original proposal from an eight to a six-storey condo and was assured in October 2011 that it met city guidelines.
Riedel officially submitted that proposal in March 2012. It calls for a 29-unit condo at the northwest corner of Woodbine and Queen, a project he said is “nearly identical” to One Rainsford, a 28-unit condo that the city approved and which is currently under construction one block west on Queen.
As for complaints that his proposed condo for Woodbine and Queen did not meet previous guidelines calling for a gradual transition to buildings immediately north of it, Riedel said “By the way, immediately to the north is a 25-foot high brick wall.”
In a separate project, developer Robert Dragicevic is proposing to build a 70-unit, six-storey condo on the east side of Queen. Dragicevic’s proposal, which raised the issue of the view to the Kew Beach fire hall, was made in October of 2012.
McMahon says both proposals are out of line because councillors asked that all development applications be put on hold when they commissioned the Queen Street East Visioning Study in January of 2012.
“They were well aware of our request, and that we had council’s unanimous support for that,” she said.
Alan Burke, head of the East Beach Community Association, spoke in favour of opposing the two OMB appeals, which he said he will be watching closely.
“Woodbine and Queen is one of the major intersections of the Beach,” he said. “How often do the two corner lots come up for redevelopment at the same time? Probably it will be decades before that happens again.
“This is a real test case.”
Jan Hykamp, president of the Greater Beach Neighbourhood Association, said the group is “delighted” to see the new, more restrictive rules locked into the city’s standard zoning for Queen Street East, and he praised the Queen Street Visioning Study that led to those rules for including public input.
To close the meeting April 9, Councillor McMahon held up a copy of the new guidelines to make “a city-wide announcement.”
“Attention developers,” she said. “Here is the Beach Bible. Your homework assignment – please read it. If you’re not interested in it, there are other areas of the city I guess.”